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A lonely climb on Everest
23:07 p.m. EDT May 26, 2003
Only a few days remain for the big Everest celebration as climbers struggle through the night to reach the summit of Everest. We are awaiting reports from the tenacious Russians; some of them tried yesterday and the rest are shooting for a summit on the 28th. The Russians have been relentless - they were scheduled to leave base camp yesterday, but put the yaks on hold.

Also coming up are the Global Extremes team and a few other expeditions on both the North and South sides who will try to steal the summit before time is out on Everest. The Global Extreme’s previous summit bid was aborted, and they have been tight-lipped about their plans since - what better way to attract the media spotlight than to wait for May 29th and summit 50 years to the day of Hillary and Norgay's famous summit - live and on television with the world watching.

It is now late in the season and the snow is melting. Crevasses are black and wide open in the icefall and Western Cwm. The ropes are torn and the anchors securing them are coming out. The mountain has become silent, tent fabric flapping quietly in the wind. The entire route is much more difficult now than in the early season. Everything about the mountain urges the climbers to go home.

The few remaining teams get to meet a different Everest. They are fortunate enough to know Everest as it is rarely experienced; silent and deserted. ExplorersWeb forecasts show that the end of this week might bring the season's only weather window. Whilst the summits so far this season have been met with high winds, a crowded route, and summit photos obscured by clouds - those getting their Everest "last-licks" could be rewarded with clear skies, low winds, and an open route.

An old French proverb says, "All good things come to those who wait." There's a handful of cold and tired climbers right now praying that the French are right!

In American baseball, the team that is up to bat last gets their last-licks in.

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